Super Best Audio Friends

The evolution of the original irreverent and irrelevant and non-authoritative site for headphone measurements, i.e. frequency response graphs, CSD waterfall plots, subjective gear reviews. Too objective for subjectivists; too subjective for objectivists

Before 2010, there was much less choice with headphones. Other than STAX and Ultrasone (the mostly bad sounding audio jewerly of the day) for the high rollers, there was Grado vs. Sennheiser for the plebs. Grado was fast, articulate, crunchy, punchy, but bright, maybe overbearingly so; Sennheiser was smooth, more tonally correct, but inescapably veiled. So veiled in fact, that just a few years ago, the Sennheiser 6** series was rumored to be canceled because of poor sales, that is until the HD650 Love (and mod) Thread and Drop's HD6XX release gave it new life.

Grado is in no danger of disappearing, but it's about time we revisit a classic, learn why it was so special in the first place, and tweak it to get the best out of it. I present the Grado RS2.

Notable highlights:
I'll be brief. This DAC pushes the boundaries of possibility.
Ultra low distortion
Power supply noise spectrum are at or below -140 dBFS in balanced output

Balanced output Dynamic Range of 140 dB
Balanced output Cross-talk is dual mono with > 150 dB isolation
Balanced output Gain Linearity is nearly perfect to -120 dBFS, less than ± 1 dB to -130 dBFS
Exceptionally low jitter; PLL has high jitter rejection of 80 dB.
NOS square wave is near perfect with fast slew rate and, of course, no filter ringing
Single Ended performance is somewhat less than Balanced output, as is typical
Single Ended performance is still exceptional compared to other DAC SE outputs

Well done Jeff Zhu!
FIRST IMPRESSIONS (SOUND): https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...nic-studios-oblivion-review.8925/#post-289155
MEASUREMENTS: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...nic-studios-oblivion-review.8925/#post-289290

I ordered the optional speaker taps (this amp doesn't have much power, but it will do 4-ohms - might do well with my speakers). Note the nice spiked feet. This is looking like a better and better deal given how expensive stuff costs up there - assuming the sonics pan out (and I have no reason to suspect that they will not given hints to the amps topology). Hopefully UltraSonic Studios will hold off from drastic price increases a la Feliks if and the brand gets more recognition. There is a large fan underneath the amp which is suspended to the bottom plate with rubber mounts like PC fans. I'm not totally sure if this is necessary, but it was probably put there out of an overabundance of caution.

Imagine a small box the size of your fist that is a WiFi music organizer/player appliance with every digital output available (including the weird ones) to feed your DAC and is controlled by your smartphone. This is it. The time is now to throw away your PC or laptop (keyboard, mouse, video monitor, USB de-crapifier, etc.). Using computers for music is like using Facebook for social media: it's for old people. Further reasons why: easy to assemble, dirt cheap, and sounds great.

AFTER (for kewl people)
Hi everyone! I'm posting here to announce that SBAF T-shirts are officially available for order here:
So in comes Drop to resurrect the PM-3 as the Panda, but their style, has added their flourishes: revised tuning, a THX AAA amp with feedforward distortion correction, and wireless Bluetooth functionality. How 'bout that? How many of you guys were wishing there was a wireless PM3? Well you guys got your wish. The tuning has be revised very slightly. If there was any compliant with the PM3s sound, it was that it might have been too murky in the lows. Drop pulled the bass back just a bit, still retaining most of the original's V-shaped response. This tuning will be favorable to consumers and many audiophiles, particularly people on the go, who may in be airplanes or trains (where a bit of boost in the lows and highs will help cut through the environmental noise).

Drop Panda Frequency Response
EARS coupler + SBAF compensation (perceptual neutral approximately straight vertical line across)
This will be another one of my stream of consciousness deals as there's just too much to cover. This is the best way for me to let you guys know about as many aspects of the "Micro BL" as possible. Feel free to ask pointed questions.


The iFi Micro iDSD BL could be the finest transportable all-in-one amp/DAC unit I have heard. It might be interesting to compare to the Chord Hugo 2 under more controlled circumstances (blind and in a home setting) however; but that may need to wait. Or maybe not, since the Hugo 2 at $2500 is meant for people who's parents in a totally different wealth bracket. For what it's worth, I didn't care for the Hugo 2. However to be fair, I may have judged it based on performance to cost, or I could have had the the wrong filter settings that did not suit my preferences.
The changes implemented for 2018 are retained: Golden Schlongs and Honorable Mentions (now Silver Dongs) are granted on per category basis (headphones, amps, sources, portable, and other). Each category will not necessarily have a GS winner; but each category will have at least a DS. It is also possible for a category to have multiple GS winners.


Last year we were super selective. There were few winners. Not much gear really got the senior members excited as many nominations were veto'd for an award. This year however is totally different. Lots of great stuff worthy of GS awards. It can even be argued that the DS gear deserved GS awards. I almost feel bad about giving out so many awards because the award is supposed to be selective - not everybody is supposed to be a winner. But the fact is, lots of great stuff this year, and some quite affordable too.
Some context here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...solid-state-power-amp-adventures.3789/page-29


I picked one of these up for cheap, thinking it would be be Class D based on its light weight. (I'm still looking for a class D amp that I find satisfying). Looks like I could have gotten fooled (explains why I actually thought this thing sounded too damn good for class D?). I realized that only the Crown DriveCore stuff or DSi series are officially stated to be class D. Crown's lineup is extremely confusing. I'm not sure that even their reps can explain. I don't know if the CDi (non DriveCore) is class AB? Crown is very coy about a lot of shit these days.
TL;DR: The digital transport makes a difference in the sound of your system, and Unison USB is not the “great equalizer” making even your shitty PC sound as good as a multi-kilobuck purpose-built digital audio transport devices (it may get close enough for many people however). I’m not advocating spending multi-kilobucks on a transport, but don’t expect your 3 year old Chromebook to do as well as a device that’s specifically designed to feed audio to your DAC (Unison USB or otherwise).

Not all digital transports are created equal. Bits aren’t bits. We’ve seen this through the evolution of CD players as well as USB as an audio interface. The quality of the transport matters, even with modern computer-based digital audio solutions that claim to have vanishingly low jitter.

Many are eagerly anticipating the launch of Unison USB for Schiit’s upgradable DACs, wondering “does it really beat SPDIF?”, “is it better than AES”? I’ve had a Unison USB Beta board in my Yggdrasil A2 for over a year now and have been extremely impressed with it from the start. It has handily beaten any other USB implementation I’ve heard (granted I’ve never heard the TOTL stuff like the Berkeley Alpha USB or the dCS Network Bridge).
Basically this software emulates the speaker-like sound into any headphone you plug into. Yeah I know, wtf right? You can use most available DACs out there, I'm using the Schiit Hel + Porta Pros right now and it works flawlessly. I'll drop down some key things here
It's definitely not for everyone and I don't think these are meant to replace your main headphone rig or speakers, but provides a unique speaker-like experience at a very affordable pricing. I know there's the Smyth realizer ? which is substantially more expensive. I think there's decent amount of friends here that would be interested in this so I decided to write my impressions here. Would be a cool loaner idea, but I think we would have to work with Ryan first since the license key only allows for one source. Mine's a prototype/demo so not sure if things have changed.
Thanks to @Phantaminum 's kindness, I can have this amp for the next couple of weeks. I didn't hear many things about this amp in sbaf -- there's only one outdated discussion thread (link). But have been curious because this is often mentioned in other forums in the context of zmf headphone pairing. Anyway he also loaned me a bunch of (really.. confusingly many!) tubes to test. Super excited.